Today, most companies are trending towards digitization, cloud infrastructure, and removal of silos. While these trends undoubtedly improve efficiency across the organization, many are bottlenecked and held back by legacy IT infrastructure, which is unable to adapt to heavy loads or to do so affordably. While digitization undoubtedly places high demands on IT infrastructure, you can optimize for it in numerous ways.
Importantly, your IT infrastructure optimization will heavily depend on your current structure, IT teams, resources, and ability to upgrade or make changes.
In some cases, you won’t have the tools or resources to truly optimize for digitization in-house. In this case, outsourcing your solutions is likely the best option, and will likely offer more in terms of efficiency than investing in your own resources.
Assessing Existing Infrastructure
The first step to any optimization process is to understand what you have. This typically means running a complete audit of hardware and infrastructure. You want to be able to recognize weak links in your infrastructure. Problems indicate prime targets for optimization.
For example, if servers are frequently idle or overloaded, if you have issues with data loss or re-imaging, if you have traffic capacity issues, etc.
Your goal is to create an overview of your system, its capabilities, and its flaws.
Align IT infrastructure with business goals
One study by Dimensions Data shows that almost half of all businesses don’t plan IT infrastructure in line with business goals.
This can be a huge mistake, because there’s a large difference between having IT infrastructure and building infrastructure to support goals.
Recognizing what those goals are and how they will impact architecture and IT needs will allow you to better optimize what you have or to change what you have to meet needs.
- How will business changes affect network needs and demands
- How do network monitoring capabilities affect goals (e.g. can you monitor across multiple hardware suppliers?)
- How does current infrastructure affect traffic and data capabilities? Does this have to scale? Can it?
- How does current infrastructure affect budget? Is it too much?
If you know where your organization is headed, you can work to optimize infrastructure for those goals. For example, if you’re currently digitizing one service but plan to do so for additional processes in the future, you know your network needs will change and quickly.
Automating IT Infrastructure
Automation is one of the easiest ways to optimize infrastructure, because it typically reduces manual labor, human error, and increases capacity.
One study by IDC found that automation allows a single IT staff member to manage 250% more network devices and 15% more network servers. This is important as you move towards digitization and have to expand network capabilities, likely without greatly expanding budget.
Automation shines in complex IT systems, where it can streamline processes that would otherwise require manual intervention. Here, you should prioritize core functions like backups, data allocation, storage and network, root-cause analysis, and system monitoring.
You can also refer back to your systems audit to review areas where bottlenecks exist, where end-user actions drive processes, and where processes require IT intervention. Each of these instances may be a candidate for automation.
Automation can help you to speed up and streamline IT processes, but, a bad process will still produce bad results even if it’s performed without human error. Review processes for quality, relevance, and efficiency before automating them.
Leverage data centers
Whether your organization maintains its own data centers, outsources, or uses a hybrid solution, data centers are likely a prime spot for optimization. Most organizations grow data centers over time, resulting in a less-than-perfect solution that might not be properly integrated, might not fully meet current load needs, and which might be difficult to scale.
This might require assessing your data needs, choosing to consolidate existing servers and data centers, or even moving to virtualization and cloud networking.
Depending on actual goals, this might mean expanding capacity, reducing footprint through moving to shared servers or cloud, or enhancing security for digitization by moving to larger and better in-house servers.
Reducing costs with SaaS and PaaS or MPS
Software as a Service and Platform as a Service allow organizations to rapidly integrate IT infrastructure to specific standards, manage infrastructure through cloud, and continuously optimize. Managed Service Providers, or MSP, are also an ideal solution for organizations who wish to improve infrastructure but who don’t operate with IT as a core service.
An external IT partner will be specialized in IT services, will understand common IT challenges, and can guide you through the process of optimizing IT infrastructure based on experience with organizations like yours. This also frees up internal IT resources, so your teams can focus on digitization, governance, and other objectives.
Most importantly, these solutions will likely reduce costs over investing in hardware, training, or hiring on new internal experts. MSPs already have the resources to leverage software and networks, to scale systems, and to migrate existing networks. If you were to do so in-house, you would have to significantly invest in internal teams and servers to make changes possible.
Other solutions, like scalability, become extremely affordable when switching to SaaS, which is typically cloud or external-supported. Rather than investing in new servers and making network changes as you grow, you simply scale up your contract, and gain additional access to servers, more monitors, and better tools.
Your IT infrastructure supports your organization and its capabilities. Depending on your organization, that may affect your ability to digitize and handle processes digitally or it might affect your core business and application. No matter where you are on the scale, optimizing infrastructure will improve your organization’s ability to scale, while improving efficacy.